It’s common knowledge that allergies can change throughout a person’s life. Everyone can name a friend that suddenly developed a pollen allergy, or knows a child who grew out of a milk allergy as they aged. Skin allergies are no exception. As people get older or change environments, their skin allergies can appear to change.
Developing a new allergy (or growing out of an old one) is possible, but the concept is more complicated than you might think. Sometimes it can seem like your allergies have changed, when in reality they haven’t. Let’s take a deeper look at how skin allergies work.
Real Allergy Changes
It is possible for allergies to change over time, but these changes most often occur for children. Its very rare for it to happen to adults.
Perhaps the best known example of how allergies can change over time is called the “allergic march.” As children with allergies get older, it’s common for them to go through series of changing symptoms as they age. In most cases, the allergic march starts with skin symptoms (such as eczema) and finishes with respiratory symptoms (like hay fever and asthma).
The allergic march is a very common model for how allergies progress over time, but it’s by no means the only one. Some people experience something like the allergic march at a different period in their lives, or only experience a part of it. It’s even possible for someone’s allergies to develop in the complete opposite direction of the allergic march.
Skin allergies are just as variable. While most skin allergies stay the same throughout a person’s life, it’s possible to develop new skin allergy symptoms for almost any reason – or even no clear reason at all!
How Most Cases Work
If you suddenly develop a new skin condition and suspect that it’s due to a change in your allergies, we recommend getting a blood allergy test to confirm your initial diagnosis. An allergy test will confirm whether or not allergies are the cause of your symptoms, and will also give you a clear idea of what allergens to avoid to keep your symptoms from flaring up.
Perhaps the most important reason to get tested, though, is that it can help you identify all the allergens that cause your symptoms. Contrary to popular belief, most allergic reactions are actually caused by several different allergens working together. Because allergic people only develop symptoms when they’ve been exposed to a certain amount of their allergens, it’s easy to mistakenly assign all the blame to the single allergen that pushed you over the threshold and caused your symptoms to start.
This is another reason why new skin allergies can seem to appear out of nowhere – you may have been just on the verge of having a reaction all day, and only developed symptoms once a certain thing pushed you over the edge.
How allergies work together and change over time is a complicated subject, and hopefully this blog has helped you get a quick overview of it. If you’d like to learn more about how allergies work together to create symptoms, we recommend this video:
Ask a Dermatologist
Anonymous, fast and secure!
Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden. I moved to the Bay Area in January 2013 and I attended the School of Public Health, UC Berkeley from 2013 to 2014 as a visiting PhD candidate. My PhD thesis is on Digital Health and so far I have published 4 peer review scientific papers. I founded First Derm in 2014.